"Since all real estate is local, tourism is an economic driver for both the residential and commercial real estate sectors. If properly planned for by your local community, the boom can be multi-fold. For areas rich in history and culture coupled with natural beauty, that local community and regional area can find a sustainable industry that may well be worth the effort."Paul Adler, Esq., SIOR Chief Strategy Officer of Rand Commercial
As I explore the symbiotic relationship between tourism and real estate in the Merritt and surrounding area. As travelers seek unique and authentic experiences away from crowded cities, small towns have emerged as alluring destinations, and this trend has significantly impacted the real estate industry. I think back at my experience with moving to Merritt over five years ago. It was because of tourism that I discovered and decided to move to Merritt. I used to camp and fish in the hills and lakes of the Nicola Valley for years when my children were young. Every time I would head home after another great weekend at one of the local lakes I would often think that, "one day I am going to live here and have this everyday."
My experience isn't singular. The more people I speak to the more I find that tourism played a large part in helping with their decision to move to the place they loved to vacation. How many of you, after spending a week or two in places like Mexico, Hawaii, Kelowna or Palm Springs, have not dreamed of what it would be like to move there one day? Tourism is a broad term but in reality it often acts as a catalyst in attracting people to a place, or a region.
The real estate industry is an integral part, and underlying infrastructural basis of the tourism sector in many small town economies. Intuitively, tourism activities are most often tied to geographic settings, and much of the physical inventory for tourist activities have been developed by and may be managed by real estate firms.
There can be multiple benefits of tourism as it creates much-needed jobs and income in under-served communities. Many smaller communities that have lost their primary industries such as logging and mining have had to pivot drastically and tourism has been, in some cases, one of the main fall back opportunities that has helped many communities survive. Along with providing local economic benefits, tourism can also help preserve traditions and foster cultural awareness and pride.
It is a proven fact that "tourism benefits include jobs, development opportunities, the promotion of peace and tolerance through a better understanding of other's cultures while preserving heritage cultures and wildlife. If done right, the additional revenue that comes into a community also benefits the government. If so, this means the local infrastructure improves with new roads, parks being developed and public spaces improved," explains Paul Adler.Paul Adler, Esq., SIOR Chief Strategy Officer of Rand Commercial
Sometimes it is hard to fathom but travel and tourism is one of the world's largest industries in the world. It "surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles," according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. However, while tourism can boost the economic growth of regions and a community's economy while providing high potential to support job creation it can also create challenges for the environment and housing.
Merritt Real Estate home buying tips includes a quote from an industry expert who said since Covid, "While the desire to travel remains undiminished, how people travel will be different. They expect the immediate future of travel will see demand for more local, longer, unique and value-for-money experiences. With long-haul international travel likely to be limited in the short-term, people will look much closer to home for their holidays such as exploring off-the-beaten path destinations they haven't visited domestically..." Local entrepreneurs can get involved in the industry by renovating and providing home-style experiences for visitors. Local residents make the best ambassadors to a community or regional by sharing their intimate knowledge of the area.
Tourism provides opportunities for young entrepreneurs to establish new products and services that would not be sustainable by the local population of residents that too small to support the people who want to provide goods and services to the local economy. Moreover, residents experience the benefits that come with tourism occurring in their own country and communities. For example, "Short-term rentals allow everyday people to take part in the tourism economy," explains Theo Yedinsky, Global Policy Director Airbnb.
Central to the significance of this premise is that, "the entrepreneur is the single most important player in the modern economy" (Lazear, 2005: 649). Tourism entrepreneurs can be considered the backbone for creating tourism products and a vibrant rural economy. (Hall, 2005; Koh, 2002; Ryan et al., 2012), Supporting entrepreneurial efforts may be just as important as that of the role of destination management organizations themselves in creating a more competitive destination appeal.
Additionally, tourism can enhance the appeal and value of real estate in small towns including Merritt BC Canada in the Nicola Valley. The natural beauty, historical significance, and cultural heritage that attract tourists also makes these places desirable for permanent residents. Real estate markets experience a surge in demand, resulting in price appreciation and potential investment opportunities. The influx of tourists can also spur infrastructure development, such as improved transportation links and amenities, further enhancing the value of properties in these areas.
However, There are challenges associated with tourism-driven real estate development in small towns. One major concern is striking a balance between preserving the town's unique charm and catering to the needs of the tourist and local demand. Over development and a focus solely on tourism can erode the authentic character of small towns, leading to the loss of their appeal. It is essential for real estate developers to adopt sustainable and responsible practices that respect the local environment and cultural heritage.
Further more, rising property prices due to increased tourism can create affordability issues for local residents. As demand surges, it becomes more challenging for individuals and families to find affordable housing options, leading to potential social and economic disparities within the community. Policymakers and real estate developers must collaborate to ensure affordable housing options, initiatives, and community-driven development strategies are in place.
Patricia Brown, a renowned architect specializing in sustainable development, sheds a light on the environmental consequences of tourism on small town real estate, Brown emphasizes, "The influx of tourists places pressure on the local infrastructure and ecosystem potentially leading to over development and environmental degradation." She advocates for comprehensive planning that ensures the sustainable growth of small towns, preserving their natural resources and cultural heritage. Brown also suggests that small towns should invest in eco-friendly and energy-efficient real estate projects, emphasizing the importance of striking a balance between tourism revenue and environmental stewardship.
In Conclusion, the interplay between tourism and real estate development in small towns has both positive and negative consequences. While tourism stimulates economic growth and enhances the value of properties, careful planning and sustainable practices are crucial to preserve the town's unique identity and address affordability challenges. By striking a balance between tourism and local needs, small towns can leverage their charm to create thriving, sustainable communities.
In future articles, I will be exploring a variety of related tourism and real estate issues that address the successes and challenges for small communities like Merritt. I look forward to sharing many ideas about the real estate market in and around Merritt and the Nicola Valley. In the mean time if you have any questions or are looking for a property in the Merritt area please do not hesitate to reach out.
Until next time: Happy Adventuring!